The O.C. S1.E14 “The Countdown”
Drinks Taken: 25
Welcome back to The O.C. Rewatch Project, and here’s a funny bit of kismet: I sort of arbitrarily chose a day to start this rewatch, not realizing that I’d scheduled it so that we’d be talking about the first Chrismukkah episode on Christmas Eve. How perfect is that??
Last week, Britt asked me a v. important question: Team Marissa or Team Theresa? And here’s the thing: I’m Team Theresa as far as humans are concerned – she’s lived a hard life with grace, and Marissa’s had it relatively easy up until about a month ago, and she started falling apart at the seams at the first sign of trouble. But as far as Ryan is concerned, I am Team Whoever Ryan Wants, and right now, that is Marissa. I know, I know – but the heart wants what it wants. And her bonus question – how do I feel about Ryan’s Chino outfit? HILARIOUS. He looks like every alterna-boy I ever had a crush on in high school, but those boys were not tough.
Let’s toast to Chrismukkah!
The O.C. Drinking Game
Drink once every time:
The ladies have a convo while primping in front of a mirror
Seth makes a nerdy reference
Someone says “Chino”
Anyone plays a video game
Summer says “ew”
Anyone eats a bagel
Anyone says “Chrismukkah”
Drink twice every time:
Someone says “Newpsie”
Someone grabs a cup of coffee
Ryan and Seth read comic books
Someone reminds us that Kaitlin Cooper exists
On to the episodes!
1.13 “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”
It’s Chrismukkah, it’s Chrismukkah! Wait – what’s Chrismukkah, you ask? Let’s let Seth Cohen explain.
Yeah, so basically Chrismukkah is the magical marriage of Christianity and Judaism, Christmas and Hanukkah, Kirsten’s WASP-y good cheer and Sandy’s Hebrew stoicism. It is Seth’s FAVORITE THING ON EARTH, and his utter, unapologetic joy in this silly made-up holiday is possibly my favorite thing about Seth Cohen. He is so super adorable about this goofy festivity, and it’s a good thing he’s so cute on Chrismukkah, because he’s pretty gross about Summer and Anna stuff this week, and it’s only his relentless glad tidings that keep me from wanting to punch him in the mouth.
So Summer and Anna are still fighting for his affections, and Seth is reveling in this rivalry in a way that diminishes both of these badass babes. He gets them the same Chrismukkah gift: a Seth Cohen starter pack consisting of Death Cab, Bright Eyes, The Shins, Kavalier and Clay and The Goonies. Bad Seth, bad! Ryan wisely tells him that he’ll have to choose, but Seth insists there is no choosing on Chrismukkah (obviously, since he never chose a holiday). Summer and Anna both attend Caleb and Julie’s Christmas party with Seth, and they each give him an amazing gift that says a lot about them and about the way they view Seth: Anna makes him a wonderful comic titled “The Adventures of Seth Cohen and Captain Oats, Vol 1: Confidence,” and it’s just the greatest thing, but then Summer gives him THIS:
And suddenly, we can all understand why it’s so damn hard for Seth to choose between Anna and Summer. But choose he must: Anna walks in on Summer’s Wonder Woman show, and Summer sees Anna’s amazing comic book, and they both feel chagrined and devalued (while totally admiring each other’s bodacious gifts to the unworthy Seth), and they tell him he has to make a choice before someone gets hurt. Seth is a major wienie and ends up telling both of them that he just wants to be friends, because he can’t stand to hurt one woman more than the other so he just hurts them both and himself to boot. You’re a dummy, Seth Cohen. But I love your holiday spirit.
Meanwhile, Sandy and Kirsten are celebrating that Caleb’s agreed to settle on The Heights landtrust case, until he backs out at the last minute and demands tens of millions more dollars, as is the Caleb Nichol way. Sandy, in a benevolent Chrismukkah mood, agrees, but Kirsten stumbles on some information that Shady Caleb’s been hiding: The Heights are seismologically unsound and The Newport Group could never get a building permit there, so Caleb’s been milking the D.A.’s office for nothing. Kirsten knows Caleb might fire her for this, but she gives the information to Sandy, who promptly threatens Caleb into selling The Heights back to him for one dollar. This isn’t nearly as dramatic as it sounds, as Caleb’s in a great mood from boning the lovely Julie Cooper on the regular, so he sort of cheerfully agrees and forgives Kirsten in like a second.
Finally, Ryan’s having some difficulty getting into the Chrismukkah spirit, partially because it is an entirely invented holiday and partially because all of his holiday memories of yore consist of “my mom drunk and me getting my ass kicked.” The Cohens are all WAH WAHHHHH at this proclamation, and they all make efforts to include him in the fun, but he’s too busy getting wrapped up in Marissa’s non-stop drama, because that feels familiar to him. They go shopping together and Marissa totally shoplifts a watch LIKE A MANIAC, and then when her parents ground her and tell her she’ll have to go to therapy like she was supposed to after the TJ incident, she gets all rage-y and goes on a crazy bender at the Christmas party. She tries to drunk-drive off so a terse Ryan takes her keys, and she starts drinking in the car and then drops the bottle, and a cop pulls them over and it’s super stressful, until the cop gets a call and has to leave. Ryan is so angry, and throws the bottle into the ocean and slams Marissa’s door a few dozen times and then tells her, as she sobs, “There’s drinking, crying, cops – it must be Christmas… I left this behind. I am not doing it again.” It breaks my heart, and Marissa finally seems to understand how completely unfair it is for her to ruin what could have been Ryan’s first drama-free holiday.
BUT THEN! It’s a Chrismukkah miracle! Ryan finally gets a teeeensy bit in the Chrismukkah spirit, and hangs his new stocking on the fireplace, next to the stockings labeled Sandy, Kirsten and Seth, as those three lovelies watch and smile in the most heartbreakingly beautiful way, and we all remember that Chrismukkah – like The O.C. – is really about family, and love, and leaving a painful past behind us.
How many times did I have to drink?
The social event of the week:
Caleb and Julie’s elaborate Christmas gala. Julie is SO DESPERATE to make this event and holiday perfect for Caleb, and to win Kirsten’s approval, and it’s all very sweet and a little try-too-hard-y.
Best Seth Cohen line
Upon hearing that Marissa, recently busted for shoplifting, has now almost gotten Ryan arrested for driving with an open container of vodka in the car, “Hey, that Marissa, she’s really making life interesting for you.”
Best Julie Cooper bitchery
When Jimmy tells her that he and Marissa are trying to decide on an appropriate punishment for her shoplifting foolishness, Julie snaps, “Oh, well, way to rule with an iron fist, Stalin, but IT’S NOT UP TO HER.”
Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows say
Sandy gives Ryan the best advice, when Ryan almost skips the Cohen Chrismukkah movie night to go with Marissa to therapy, “You know, Marissa’s going to have to figure this out by herself, and you’ve gotta let her. You’re with us now. You don’t have to be the parent anymore.” TEARS.
The worst person
Oh hey, IT’S OLIVER. Marissa meets Oliver (the smug-faced and even smugger-voiced Taylor Handley, also known as that kid who’s dating Joey’s professor’s daughter but keeps hitting on Joey on Dawson’s Creek) in the waiting room of her therapist’s office, and he immediately starts negging her in that stupid boy way, assuming all sorts of (okay, accurate) stuff about her drinking and drug issues and immediately making me want to drop-kick him.
1.14 “The Countdown”
Sick of talking about Oliver yet? Too bad: we have one hundred billion more hours of him! He continues to hit on Marissa in the waiting room of the therapist’s office, still pretending to neg her but clearly obsessed with her. He invites her to his New Year’s Eve party at his pad, which just happens to be the penthouse of the Four Seasons, and when she mentions a boyfriend he immediately starts talking about his long-distance girlfriend Natalie. I don’t want to spoil anything for newbies here, but the first time I met this dude, I was immediately suspicious, and you should be too. He is a skeezy creep.
Marissa and Ryan are doing pretty well after the stress of last week, sharing a cute date, but he tells her he’d rather stay in on NYE so he can keep her safe. On the one hand, this is grossly overprotective, but on the other hand, it’s Marissa Cooper and homegirl requires some gross overprotection. Marissa tells Ryan that she loves him, and he awkwardly replies “Thank you,” so she decides, cheerfully, to go to Oliver’s party. Ryan doesn’t want to go, so she says she’ll go without him, and on paper this all sounds very passive-aggressive and ultimatum-ish, but in truth, I actually love the way Marissa handles this whole thing. She seems very amused by Ryan’s inability to say “I love you,” and she’s super cool and casual until this is all resolved.
Enter Hailey Nichol! Kirsten’s wayward, pantsless younger sister (played by Amanda Righetti) drops by after planting trees in Tacoma or building churches in Costa Rica or whatever the hell she’s been doing until she ran out of money, and no one but Seth seems particularly glad to see her. (“Aunt Hailey! Later, when you’re dressed, we’ll hug.”) She commandeers the pool house and spends a lot of time mocking Ryan for his ILU gaffe (and soon the entire Cohen family is joining in on that fun), and she starts teasing Kirsten for her pleasant routine with Sandy – a routine that I find wholly charming, but Hailey maintains is boring. Kirsten starts to believe her that she and Sandy are in a rut, so she agrees to cancel their usual NYE plans and instead go to some random party Hailey tells her about. Hailey tries, at the same time, to kick out Seth and Ryan, convincing Ryan that Marissa’s going to kiss Oliver at midnight if Ryan isn’t there, but just as the boys are about to head out, a million random partiers arrive at once (how do raucous party-goers always arrive at the exact same time in movies and TV shows? Did they all caravan there together?), and Seth and Ryan feel like they have to stay to keep the party under control. But once it gets extra-nuts, Ryan threatens to call the police and Hailey, who is AMAZINGLY selfish and irresponsible, locks the boys in the pool house. Ryan starts getting anxious about Marissa and Oliver, and Seth’s innate anxiety triples because it turns out he’s claustrophobic, and the entire scene and every conversation they share in this pool house is hilarious and adorable. I love these fellas.
Meanwhile, it turns out the party Hailey sent Sandy and Kirsten to is a swingers’ party, and after they get over their outrage, they dare each other to stay. At first Kirsten is very uncomfortable, but when she sees Sandy having a friendly conversation with a knockout babe, she decides to stay just to, I dunno, prove something. But as the couples pair off (the men dropped their watches into a bowl, and the women pick a watch in order to secure their sexual partner), Kirsten seems ever-more unhappy – until they’re the last two people in the room, and the bowl is empty, and Sandy cutely reveals that he removed his watch and put it back into his pocket. Kirsten grins, relieved, and they go home to have their own super hot sex, because they’re good at that.
At the party, Oliver continues to be a totally obvious creep and Marissa continues to be oblivious to his machinations. This is what Oliver looks like, by the way, in case you’re having trouble picturing the most punchable face on the planet. (Also Marissa looks smoking hot, doesn’t she?)
Anna and Summer are both there, and they’re sweet to each other, and vent about Seth a little, until a cute guy smiles at them and Summer demands to know which one he wants. He says “You’re both cute,” and Summer’s all SOMEBODY HAS TO CHOOSE! But Anna tells her that this guy isn’t her type – Seth is – and she leaves, with Summer staring sadly after her. Later, Summer kisses him at midnight but then sighs tearfully to herself, “You’re not Seth Cohen,” and GAHHH Seth does not deserve either of these women.
Freedom! Some girl who hates Hailey, like most everybody else in Newport right now, shows up, and Hailey lets Seth and Ryan out of the pool house to help her shut down the party before she gets her ass kicked. Ryan hauls off to find Marissa, and Seth is surprised to find Anna, who’s showed up to fight for her man. They make out on the bed, and so Anna sort of made up Seth’s mind for him. Sandy and Kirsten arrive home to find the totally wrecked house, and Kirsten quite fairly yells at Hailey, who never even apologizes or shows a tiny bit of remorse. I like Hailey later, but I am so affronted by her in this episode. She storms off and Sandy and Kirsten finally get to have their sexy sex.
And finally! In a super exciting slow-mo sequence, Ryan runs up the stairs to the penthouse because the elevator’s taking too long, and everyone’s counting down to midnight and Marissa keeps looking at the door longingly, and he shows up right at midnight to kiss her, and it’s all very romantic!
And then he tells her, “I love you,” and she primly responds, “Thank you,” which makes me laugh. I don’t say it often, but today I say: well done, Marissa Cooper.
How many times did I have to drink?
Best Seth Cohen line
Sighing at the nude bros jumping into his pool at Hailey’s party, “Okay, that’s a lot of genitalia in my pool.”
The Cohens rule
I love the way they’re all mocking Ryan for his macho ILU mistake. When Seth first hears that his reply was “Thank you,” Seth says, “That was very polite!” and then when Sandy later says the same thing, Seth eagerly chimes in, “That’s what I said!” Then, when Kirsten and Sandy are leaving, Seth calls after them, “I love you guys!” and Sandy replies, “THANK YOU.” So great.
How we know it’s 2003
Two ways – first, when Seth suggests that he and Ryan should join Friendster, and second, by the badly distinct highlights that every woman above 20 now sports on this show.
How we know Seth and Sandy Cohen are related
When Sandy walks into his room to find three party stragglers having sex, he exclaims, “Sorry! I should really learn to knock,” and then mutters to himself as he walks away, “In case there’s a threesome going on in my bedroom.” OH YOU BOYS.
Things that make you go hmmm
Rachel Bilson’s been added to the opening credits as of this week! But Samaire Armstrong (Anna) has not. Just something to chew on.
That’s it for this week! A question for you that I am really curious about, dear FYA readers: is there ANYONE out there who didn’t immediately hate Oliver? Any Oliver defenders? Speak up! Dying to know.
And a question for you for next week, Britt: Since you have less patience for Marissa Cooper than I, how do you feel about the way she handled Ryan this week? Do you think she was being passive-aggressive or kind of awesome?
Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she covers “The Third Wheel” and “The Links.”